In my last post What is a Broken Shoulder I explained all about the causes of broken shoulder and just how common it is to break your shoulder.
In this article I’m going to outline the various treatment options available.
Firstly the good news, most broken shoulders or proximal humerus fractures can be treated without surgery.
If the shoulder break is clean, meaning that there are no bone fragments displaced, the arm will be treated by being placed in a sling.
Eighty-five percent of shoulders which are broken, are nondisplaced, and do not require surgery.
The shoulder cannot be placed in a cast for healing, therefore a sling is worn, giving the shoulder time to heal, and preventing further damage.
When the shoulder is broken due to traumatic injury such as a vehicle accident, or forceful fall, treatment may involve surgery.
If bone fragments are shattered, and shifted out of position, surgery is necessary. The fractured bone may be repositioned and fixated with screws, pins, or plates.
If the fragments are too small, or cannot be correctly positioned, shoulder replacement surgery may be necessary.
Factors that determine Broken Shoulder Treatment
Broken shoulder treatment depends on several factors.
Treatments can include wearing a shoulder sling, surgery to replace bone fragments, or shoulder replacement surgery.
Some important factors in determining the proper treatment are:
- Age of the patient
- Patient’s general health-is there pre-existing bone disease?
- How much time has passed between the shoulder injury and diagnosis or treatment?
- Bone density – is osteoporosis present?
- Fracture placement-where is the break located in proximity to the shoulder?
- Condition and placement of fracture fragments-are the fragments scattered or can they be fixated into place?
- Extent of nerve and/or soft tissue damage surrounding the break
After any broken shoulder treatment, physical therapy is recommended. Supervised physical therapy exercises can help to preserve range of motion.
Normal recovery can be expected for most patients. Only a small percentage of shoulder fractures result in permanent nerve damage.
A period of immobilization will be necessary for approximately 4-6 weeks.
After the first few weeks of healing, more intensive exercises will decrease arm stiffness, and improve the shoulder’s range of motion.
A Broken shoulder is a great inconvenience, but can be managed with proper diagnosis and treatment.
I have produced a complete shoulder relief program that could help you relieve shoulder pain and rehabilitate your shoulder.
Always check with your doctor before doing any exercise and stop the exercise immediately if it causes pain.
Tim Allardyce DO MCSP SRP